The colours of Christmas
Colours used to have a deeper meaning and often conveyed a symbolic message. We might be aware of how colours influence us today, but we don’t see colours the way people used to! Few people know why the colours red and green are so strongly connected to Christmas.
During mediaeval times and before, the colours green and red often represented a boundary or a significant division. To divide the nave and the chancel in churches, a certain kind of rood screens were used from the 14th to the 16th century, often painted by Flemish immigrants in mainly red and green, which could have been used to emphasize the division between parishioners and the holy sanctuary. This might later on have been interpreted by the Victorians as a more significant division as a new beginning of a new year, close to Christmas time. The green and red tradition might have an even earlier foundation, through a Celtic legend where a tree is mentioned representing a boundary half red and half green.
A slightly less scientific belief is that Mistletoe, Holly and Ivy (evergreens) has been used as decoration during the darkest time of the year for thousands of years. For example, evergreen branches were often given to family and friends by the Romans as a sign of good luck and the Paradise plays that were often performed for the people who couldn’t read at Christmas Eve, had a centrepiece – a focal point in form of a Paradise Tree – A pine tree with red apples hanging in it! The red colour of the apple is supposed to represent Adam, meanwhile Holly Berries is said to represent the blood of Jesus dying on the cross. Father Christmas uniform is believed to have become red, since it was so worn by St Nicholas relating to the robes of the Bishops. Quite often we see the addition of gold, representing the warm fire and the gifts to Jesus from the three wise men.